Just something I was wondering about last night when I couldn't sleep...how would the stopping power of a .44 Remington '58 compare to that of a modern revolver? I mean, what round would it be similar to? I have a friend that says it's the same as a .38 special, but I'm sure he's just pulling that out of his butt...
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February 16, 2007, 09:41 PM
With a maximum charge and depending in part on the bullet weight, it would be close in power to the .44 Special. A .36 revolver would be close to the .38 S&W and approach the .38 Special standard load. Percussion revolvers are just as good for the first six shots as more modern cartridge guns. (No, don't try to get .454 Casull performance out of that Remington!)
February 16, 2007, 10:10 PM
The NRA ran an article some time ago about the Philippino War in American Rifleman - right after the Spanish-American War.
The U.S. Army was using .38 modern cartrige types.
The troops found that the stopping power against Moros - the Muslim Philippinos we were fighting then, was inadequate. A lot of them switched over to .44 Cap and ball Civil War Revolvers and found they were more satisfactory.
Apparently the U.S. military recently was considering switching back to .45 caliber sidearms but for some reason this was stopped. I think they use 9mms now that are inadequate against "insurgents" in Iraq and Afghanistan.
February 16, 2007, 10:39 PM
I don't have a clue what the best answer is to the original question is, but a bp pistol firing lead ball ammo relies on mass more than velocity for stopping power. As far as damage to a human being at relatively close range, I'd think the BP lead ball would do more damage than aproximate size ammo of the steel jacketed higher velocity smokeless round kind.
February 16, 2007, 11:36 PM
Ballistics would be something like 140 grains at 850 fps through a 5.5" barrel. That's about 225 ft-lbs, or 0.53 lb*ft/sec momentum. I'm not sure what the ballistics for conicals are. Something like 200 gr at 800 fps?
The classic .38 SPL FBI load is 158 gr at 890 fps through a 4" barrel. 278 ft-lbs, 0.62 lb*ft/sec.
A standard pressure .38 would be 158 gr at 755 fps, 4" barrel again. 200 ft-lbs, 0.53 lb*ft/sec.
A .45 ACP will shoot a 230 gr bullet at 850 fps through a 5" auto barrel (equivalent to about a 3.5" revolver barrel), for 369 ft-lbs, 0.87 lb*ft/sec.
So energywise, a 1858 with round ball is somewhere between standard pressure and +P .38 SPL, from a shorter barrel. If comparing equal barrel lengths, it's probably about the same as standard .38 SPL. And it doesn't really stack up to a modern .45 at all.
Conicals may do better though, or even better would be a lead hollowpoint, similar to the old FBI load.
February 17, 2007, 12:10 AM
Elmer Kieth put it this way approx. "there's no better killer of game or men than the lead round ball". Very lethal wound channel. The Civil War vets that Elmer Kieth knew and discussed the subject said that the Navy Colt lead ball took the fight out of the enemy calvary better than the conical. The conical they said was used more for penetration into a cattle skull for killing it to eat. Of course conicals with round noses don't kill as well as conicals with a large flat metplate. Anyway, at close range(pistol range) a lead ball from a New Army ,loaded with 35gr. FFFg and would be going over 900fps,would be a good bit more lethal than a 38 special. The difference being in the more devastating wound channel of the lead ball compared to the round nose of the 38 bullet. A 45 cal. lead ball may only be about 147 grains weight but that is alot to a human torso when you consider that the ball is a very lethal wound channel maker. One incident as recorded way back in the day where a bunch of soldiers were shooting at a large bear with the Navy Colts and had little effect on it when a horse soldier rode close to the bear and discharged it pronto with two balls fired from the Dragoon Colt. Larger ball and more powder killt a large bear dead. From that a person could conclude that even a 36 ball would play havoc on a human and the 45 ball with some powder behind it,like 35gr. in an New Army revolver, would be down right devastating.
February 17, 2007, 12:50 AM
I'm not sure that the Army in the Philippines switched over to cap 'n ball revolvers. My impression is that they returned to the Colt Single Action Army in .45 LC.
February 17, 2007, 01:43 AM
Gary, that's what I have read also.
But on the original issue:
reports during and after the acw speak about the effects of the soft lead ball. Some claimed the 44 would flatten out to about silver dollar size when it hit bone. The round seems to be rather a mangler.
I know one thing for sure:
Mental images of C&B being somewhat less than the power of todays revolvers are not enough to allow myself to just stand there and get shot like it was a bb gun or something.
February 17, 2007, 02:10 AM
Elmer Kieth put it this way approx. "there's no better killer of game or men than the lead round ball". Very lethal wound channel. The Civil War vets that Elmer Kieth knew and discussed the subject said that the Navy Colt lead ball took the fight out of the enemy calvary better than the conical.
I've heard this before, but if it's true, why did they use mostly conicals during the civil war? And why does a ball kill better than a conical? I would think more lead = more dead...no?
February 17, 2007, 08:30 AM
the conicals were suitable for making combustable paper cartridges and that may be why they were widespread in the late 1850s and afterward. It might be that people though that they were more lethal and accurate whether they really were or not. Bullets were more modern than round balls and loud-talking experts who probably couldn't hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle could convince a lot of people that they were better.
Round balls were in common use. The cased revolvers often contained a box of six cartridges but also had a flask and bullet/ball mould in there too. The .36 caliber projectile some yankey shot into Jessie James was a round ball. When the DNA people dug him up, the found the ball which they saw as an indication that they had, in fact, dug up Jesse James rather than some decoy stiff planted there to allow the real JJ to escape to Texas.
February 17, 2007, 08:47 AM
I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading about this topic since I began collecting cap and ball revolvers. My conclusion is that despite their performance on paper cap and ball revolvers are far more effective than they appear based solely on foot pounds energy data. My reasoning on this is the anacdotal evidence provided by people like Elmer Kieth and others who have been witness to shootings where cap and ball guns have been used. I have also used the Taylor Knock Out scale quite a bit to compare modern cartridges to cap and ball performance. According to the Taylor scale a fully loaded .44 Colt Army or Remington Army scores a 9 when loaded with a round ball. This puts it up there with the .38 super, .357 sig and a light .357 magnum load. When loaded with a conical it matches up to a standard .44 special. Despite their performance on paper the round ball's tendency to leave a nasty wound channel and its apparent heavy energy dump on targets makes these guns serious medicine.
As far as the Phillipines campaign the army sent the troops surplus Rogers and Spencers until the Colt .45's arrived. The troops were well pleased with their performance on Moro fanatics.
To sum up, cap and ball revolvers may not compare to modern big bore guns but they cannot be dismissed as underpowered even by todays standards. A well maintained and carefully loaded cap and ball revolver is a reliable and potent weapon that should be taken very seriouly especially if your looking down the muzzle of one.
February 17, 2007, 09:18 AM
Things haven't changed much since then with regards to thinking. Today it's still "if it's more modern, then it just HAS to be better" when often it isn't better, just different.
I don't know about ball performance in handguns, but from a rifle the ball flattens out in game and causes a wound channel far out of proportion to the actual caliber. The same effect might be true at handgun velocities, though to a lesser degree.
February 17, 2007, 09:27 AM
The only advantage a "modern" light weight high velocity bullet has over a "old fashioned" heavy slow moving one is that it shoots flatter. A 405gr. lead bullet fired from a .45-70 at BP velocity (1300fps +/-, 1500 ft.lbs) will punch through a mature buffalo at 200 yds (1060 fps +/-, 1000 ft.lbs.). The bullet drop is 25" at that range. Bullet expansion is small in comparison to a "modern" design but the wound cavity is as large and much longer.
"Modern" bullets are designed to expand at certain velocity range, should the bullet strike at a lower velocity it will not expand as designed. BP lead bullets use mass and it doesn't really matter what the velocity is, they simply crash through and do the job.
The higher the velocity the more complex the bullet design needs to be in order to do what is required. The bullet of choice in African big game hunting is a solid (including bronze which is turned on a lath) at velocity less than 2200fps. They penetrate deep and are total reliable regardless of the velocity.
Big and slow always works.
February 17, 2007, 10:30 AM
The balls do have a flat aspect- partially from being swaged into the chambers and partially from impact. These were recovered from water after passing through a grocery store brisket. Kind of neat how they launched the lids of those water bottles
Ballistic Coefficient (BC) A number based on the weight to diameter ratio of bullets and the shape of the bullet. It is useful for predicting the down-range performance of a projectile. Round Balls have very low BC while bullets of the same caliber have higher BC. In practice, when a ball and a longer bullet of equal diameter start at the same velocity, the bullet will loose velocity slower than the ball. It retains more energy at extreme range and reaches a given distance faster than the ball. There is a very significant advantage to high ballistic coefficient in long range shooting. At the typical handgun distances, particularly with revolver loads, the advantages may mean little or nothing. For example: an optimal loading of a 140 grain .454 “ round ball [BC=. 065] might present a muzzle velocity of 1050 feet per second. The maximum velocity obtainable with a 200 grain Bullet [BC=. 14] might be 850 fps. At the muzzle, the faster moving ball will present 343 foot pounds of energy- a little more than the heavier but slower bullet which carries 321 foot Pounds. At 25 yards, the ball is still traveling 971 feet per second and retains 293 foot pounds of energy. The bullet has lost only twenty feet per second and now has the nebulous energy advantage with 306 foot pounds. The bullet arrives on target at 75 yards .011/second before the ball with only forty -eight more foot pounds of retained energy than the round ball. The ballistic advantages of the bullet would not be apparent to anything on the receiving end.
February 17, 2007, 10:37 AM
George Catlin, the old west artist, was once chased by a bull buffalo that a rifle bullet failed to stop. "Fortunately," he recalled, "I had one of Colt's Dragoon revolvers with me. I drew it and turned [in the saddle] and fired at his head. Instantly, to my great surprise and relief, he fell dead at my feet, the ball having passed through his skull and entered his brain."
February 17, 2007, 10:58 AM
Jim Taylor, writer for New Gun Week, mentioned that his dad had a bunch of original remingtons he had bought from a well-known collector. also had an 1860 army or two. He saw a guy get accidentally shot with a ball load from an Army while standing in a kitchen. The ball hit him in the lower stomach, out the back, through a kitchen cabinet door and was later found in a loaf of bread. The shootee lived but Taylor didn't know whether he ever really got well or not.
I've heard second and third hand of shootings with a ruger old army, an 1861 replica and one of the Pietta .44 Navy revolvers. all victims were drt . Two were head shots and I didn't get details on the other.
February 17, 2007, 05:40 PM
Dropped Right There? or Dead Right There?
...anyway, I agree that I would rather avoid a well loaded well shot .44 or .36 bp round ball period...:)
February 17, 2007, 06:04 PM
Doesn't have to be 36 or 44 to kill...
A Police Officer from my area got hit in the noggin by a .31 at close range and he was dead before he hit the ground. I was kinda surprised, but I read that in an old news paper clipping hanging on a gun shop wall. Guess a modern .22LR would do the same thing....
February 17, 2007, 06:22 PM
Dead right there. I think the police were tearing a page from the emergency room people. I heard some of them talking one night. " Old lady Jackson was standing right there last night and dfo'ed.
Done fell out.
February 19, 2007, 02:46 PM
with a .44 round ball one round in the chest. (Long history of domestic violence between them) He did not survive and by all accounts died pretty quickly, as in broke off his attack and dropped right there...
February 19, 2007, 03:05 PM
Nice of you to inroduce yourself woodnbow. Welcome.
February 19, 2007, 03:20 PM
Like Mec ..i do alot of this type testing when i get to hearing things and wondering ..we all have a little Myth buster in us ..Wet phone books are my favorite testing tools ...and i`ve tested 38 specials against my 44 remmie loaded cap and ball ..30 grs of goex ...the Remmie 44 cap and ball load went through twice as much wet phone book as the 38 specials ....so those that like me heard a 38 special is the same as a 44 cap and ball ...Myth busted .
February 19, 2007, 04:10 PM
So if it is true that cap and balls are more powerfull, then what do y'all think about using them for self defense? Are they reliable enough?
February 19, 2007, 04:27 PM
I get mixed up in this kind of thread all the time in fact I'm involved in one now on a muzzleloader forum. You will have guys that will call you a dang fool for using a cap and ball for self defense and say you should carry nothin less than a .45 auto. Then you'll have fellas who'll tell ya a cap and ball is fine. As far as I'm concerned a modern wheel gun is about as reliable as you can get. If I lived in a rough neighborhood thats what I would carry. But I feel pretty darn comfortable with my cap and ball revolvers too especially the Remington models as I have never had the cylinder tie up because of spent caps. The power of cap and ball revolvers is definitly adequite for self defense. Whether its a good idea is a matter of opinion. Personally I would never feel underguned with a .44 cap and ball revolver. As far as semi auto pistols are concerned, I'd rather have a cap and ball.
February 19, 2007, 04:53 PM
I must say i do keep my 1858 Remmies loaded for self defence ..but i use the conversion cylinders in 45 LC ...just a little more punch heavyer bullet than the cap and ball ..and much easyer to unload when i need . My 5 1/2 inch barrel Uberti ..sure feels good in my hand on a dark night ...carries well in a shoulder hoster too .
February 19, 2007, 06:27 PM
The .44 Army with 25 Grs. of 3F and RB will give up 730 foot pds. at 25 yards. That an't bad for a RB. Will get you into the .38 Spec. power factors.:evil:
February 20, 2007, 01:28 AM
Lead ball lethality?
Sounds like a job for my favorite ballistics guys, the Box of Truth.
February 20, 2007, 11:05 AM
According to the old Lyman B P Handbook...25 gr of goex 3f under a 451 diam. rb gives 805 fps at the muzzle and 198 ft/lbs...thats from a 8" barrel.
6 more grains of powder and the velocity went on up to 933 fps...serious medicine for its intended purpose..
March 6, 2007, 02:47 AM
Ed Sanow published a list of cap & ball .31, .36 & .44 round ball versus modern calibre one shot stops in the Feb 1998 copy of Handguns. I have pasted it but it's a bit messed up.
Cap and Ball Ballistics
By Ed Sanow
Handguns February 1998
Cap and Ball Wound Ballistics
1 Shot Stop
It is interesting to see that the 1 shot stop is higher on a number of the BP's than the popular 9mm. Kind of makes you re-evaluate these guns with new found respect. :)
March 6, 2007, 02:27 PM
:rolleyes: Have to love the good old Fuller Index. Roll a couple dice and add and subtract a bit from the Fuller number, and you get Sanow's numbers.
0.0057 * energy / frontal area + 61.5 = One shot stop %.
So a nailgun firing a 1/10" wide nail with half the energy of a .22 pistol has a one shot stop of...
0.0057 * 30 ft-lbs / 0.00785 in^2 + 61.5 = 83%! Why bother with a .45, when a .10 is plenty?
March 6, 2007, 04:14 PM
I'm with Ryan. It doesn't make me want to reevaluate the guns as much as it makes me want to reevaluate Sanow's junk science.
The one thing I've learned from hunting with patched round balls though, they stop game far out of proportion to their meager paper numbers. I've had faster drops and less tracking than with any centerfire caliber. Pretty amazing when you consider how old the technology is.
March 8, 2007, 08:14 AM
The way I read it, it's not the common 9mm Luger ... look at the bullet weight. It says 9mm S, which I take to be 9MM Short, especially when you consider the 88 grain bullet weight!
March 8, 2007, 11:08 AM
I heard about the use of a cap&ball revolver when a person was being accosted by an armed mugger. The victim of the mugger drew a cap&ball revolver and fired twice and dropped it and ran. The mugger dropped on the spot and never ran,or breathed a breath again in this world. Live by the sword. Die by the sword.
March 8, 2007, 03:05 PM
I learned a long time ago not to look at the successes. Anything can be successful. A few decades back, the largest Kodiak bear on record was killed with a .22 short. Long story, but it's documented. That doesn't mean the .22 is an ideal bear hunting round. Every cartridge and caliber has had it's share of instant one shot stops.
The secret is to look at the failures. They speak volumes about a particular round's effectiveness. They're a little harder to track, because they are the most ignored piece of data. I've always wished someone would compile those stats and publish it.
March 9, 2007, 05:27 PM
Okay. I've seen similar threads before and always had the same thought, but noticed that no one else mentioned it, and in fact I've been reluctant to mention it myself, but maybe I should, so here goes, even if I sound like a damn fool. (Which incidentally I am, but that may be another story.)
Anyway, in the wake of the post-Katrina gun confiscations, and the anti-gun sentiments now dominating Congress, and the ongoing & accelerating erosion of our constitutional rights,and the way it turns out that we're all being spied on by the government (and have been even before 9/11), it's occured to me that we may soon be looking at illegal mass gun confiscations, and that there's a database in Washington (or Brussels???) with the name of everyone who's ever bought a gun from someone with an FFL on it that's going to make it a hell of a lot easier for them to know what doors to knock on. Makes me think that a Walker would protect me a lot better than a .44 magnum in the long run, if you get my drift...:what:
March 9, 2007, 07:50 PM
Makes me think that a Walker would protect me a lot better than a .44 magnum in the long run, if you get my drift...
Well, you might get lucky and get a couple of them + smoke cover.
I wouldn't want to use BP revolvers of any caliber against kevlar-clad goobermint ninja thugs armed with MP-5s and M-16s.
Although it would make for amusing headlines on the 6:00PM news ....:p
March 9, 2007, 08:07 PM
I've had similar thoughts about my black powder guns. I take any gloom and doom prediction with a big grain of salt but if the world does go to heck in a hand basket and big brother wants to grab our guns they will probably be more interested in the cartridge stuff. Tracable and more feared than BP guns. I won't be able to fight off the huns but at least I won't be left completely at the mercy of others. I will still be able to hunt and defend my self and family. Because they can't be traced through any government file they can be wrapped up and buried until big brother gets bored and goes away. The chances of this senario accually happening are slim but no one can predict the future.
March 9, 2007, 08:34 PM
You guys make a good point about the covert nature of owning black powder weapons. It might also be a good idea to buy a few self defense weapons via private sale so as to not leave a paper trail. At least you'd have something to fall back on in an emergency after a gun grab.
I've never really thought about my black powder guns for self defense before, but they'd work just as well today as they did 200 years ago.
March 9, 2007, 11:31 PM
What would Josie use?
March 10, 2007, 08:22 AM
Josie would probably use his 1860 army or his dragoons.
Right after he asks "Are you going to pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?"
March 10, 2007, 11:18 AM
You got that right, pardner. :)
March 10, 2007, 10:21 PM
Does anyone know how to convert a musket into a Homeland Defense Rifle? I just got one, but there's no place for a clip...
March 11, 2007, 10:04 AM
Thats what buck and ball loads are for!
March 11, 2007, 11:54 AM
For rapid repeated use you might do better to get some of that foam that cyclist use on handle bars and slip it over the muzzle.
Makes the grip more secure :p
Or fit a bayonet.
"They don't like it up 'em Cap'n Mainwaring Sir!"
March 12, 2007, 05:58 PM
Actually, I found this genius gunsmith/machinist who was happy to make the conversions I was thinking about. Boy, I can't wait till I show up at the range with this baby!:D
March 12, 2007, 06:17 PM
I just had my 7.5" barreled .44 Colt at the range this weekend. Using a CED chrono, I clocked several 6-shot strings.
Using .454 round ball and 30 gr Goex, I started out (clean gun) getting high 700s to low 800s feet per second at 7 feet from the muzzle. As the gun fouled up, the velocity increased, and then averaged 841 Fps.
If a Walker can in fact take 60 grains of BP as some here are saying, that would be quite interesting...
The reliability of these weapons, in my admittedly limited experience, is less than I would tolerate in a defensive gun. Saturday I fired about 60 rounds, and had at least 10 misfires (hammer drops and, nothing - upon a secon hammer drop on the same cap, Bang! but you have to fuss around to know if you're dropping on a loaded or unloaded chamber since you have a mixture of them after a couple misfires. Other misfires occured due to a spent cap getting between the hammer and the frame, preventing the hammer from hitting the next cap). Plus, after I was done I noticed that the cylinder lock screw was missing. Ah! That explained why the hammer wouldn't always come back!
I'll take a so-so automatic or a modern revolver over what I'm getting from my Pietta C&B. I'd have to try another C&B or learn how to make it/them more reliable to even consider one as a serious defense tool, when so many guns are available that are better at simply going Bang. And this does not address long-term storage of a loaded C&B gun in potentially humid conditions. You'll have to unload and load more often, which means more cleaning...
March 12, 2007, 07:10 PM
I don't know what I'm doing different or right but I rarely get a misfire. If I'm using a tight cap I'll get them but not when using standard #11 caps. Of course I do get the occasional cap jam with my colt clones but never with my Remington clones. When I go to the range I rarely put more than 2 or 3 cylenders through a revolver. Some of my revolvers are more reliable than others and some I have to work out the bugs to get them shooting reliably. Obviously modern revolvers are more reliable but if all I had was a cap and ball I would feel confident that I could use it with good effect if I had to. I learn quickly when I get a new cap and ball just what needs to be done to make it a reliable shooter. As far as storing them loaded I have done this up to a month without any negative effect to reliability and some have stored them longer without a problem with them going bang. I think you will find that when maintained and loaded carefully cap and ball revolvers are nearly as reliable as many modern guns.
March 12, 2007, 07:31 PM
Don, you have a point. My Pietta gets less reliable with each cylinder fired, as I suppose should be expected. As the fouling accumulates on the nipples, the caps get harder and harder to seat, hence the more likely the misfire. So that was my observation this weekend.
On a clean gun the #11s wont stay on. On a dirty gun, the #10 caps are very hard to seat. I haven't tried #11s on a dirty gun. Fired caps will go all over the place, as they open up and fall off randomly.
For defense of course we are talking about firing a clean gun, so you have a maximum of five of your more reliable shots, eight with a LeMatt (seven balls and one load of shot) and that's it.
Long-term storage of a loaded gun would of course depend on conditions, but I'm confident that my cartridge guns would fire after a year or more (not that I ever wait that long, but..) even in my pocket.
March 12, 2007, 09:35 PM
One trick I've learned with the #11 caps that are a little loose is to pinch them slightly. I'm sure you know of this already. Another thing that helps is putting those little cap keepers over the capped nipples. They are just a small cross section of plastic tubing that slides over the capped nipple. When the gun is fired the cap stays(more or less) intact and less likely to fall into the action. I've heard that some cowboy action shooters use them. As far as cap and ball revolvers compared to modern revolvers there is no comparison. New technology gets used because it has clear advantages over old technology. That doesn't mean that the old technology doesn't work it just means it requires more time and attention to work properly. Time and technology moves on. I'm just the sort of guy that doesn't want to forget the old ways of doing things just in case our high tech way for some reason is no longer available to us. If you had a board to cut and the power went out your skil saw is useless but if you know how to use a hand saw the board will still get cut. People get so reliant on new technologies its hard to recall how we got along without them in the past. Obviously, if your posting on this board I'm preaching to the choir.
March 12, 2007, 10:32 PM
The old way was to go muzzle up when cocking to let the spent caps fall out of the way.
March 13, 2007, 01:54 AM
I find both raising the muzzle and keeping it level while cocking equally adept at dropping spent cap fragments down the front of the hammer, thus causing jams. The most effective way at preventing cap jams in my experience is to point the muzzle down while cocking... the caps stay on or near the nipple then fall off out the capping cutout in the recoil shield when you pull the revolver back up to line up your next shot. ;)
March 24, 2007, 12:47 AM
if the "man" comes looking for my weapons, I will claim they were stolen since the last time i saw them, (days ago).
I can;t imagine ,my .44 does not have the stopping power or more than any cartidge pistol i have.
Lord help us if hillary goes and gets elected
April 6, 2007, 05:29 PM
I just found this thread today, being relatively new here.
In May, the 4th Annual John Linebaugh Big Bore Seminar will be coming to Carthage, Illinois. At this, we shoot various calibers and loads into wet paper and bone and examine the effects on both, as well as penetration, deformation of the bullet and chronograph the loads as well. We have not had any black powder guns show up (rifles can be brought in to test, too)
yet, but now, after reading this thread, I might bring my .44, .36 and .31 (pipsqueak) to try out for the fun of it.
More information about the meet can be found at http://www.carthagegunclub.com/ , and I see we need to redo the dates.
It is going to be in May, anybody interested can PM me here.
The Doc is out now. :cool:
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